Posted by: mikeyfreedom | December 3, 2007


My father said to me at a very young age that you are lucky in life if you can count on as many true friends as the fingers upon one hand!

In that a person’s wealth lies not in their possessions , but in those around them, people who can be counted as true friends. Such people, if we are fortunate, are a reflection of honesty and character. Where as acquaintances can appear to be good friends, though are in fact unreliable, a form of friendship for varying reasons? This is not an all condemning fact, it is but merely a reflection of the depth of such a friendship, sometimes a friends importance and attachment to yourself can at times be measured by their absence in your life? What is our reaction or response in these moments? Do we notice their absence? What is the reason for such distance or circumstance? But true friends are patient, they wait, they consider, ponder and try to understand. Sometimes they are brutally honest, confronting and challenging because they indeed give a stuff!

But there are times when words can not help and a friend seems distant and unreachable?


Samoan Kids , SAMOA. Photography by Michael Lothian. 2007. Copyright.

Upon the 7th of November 1868 within the confines of a small stone village ( a place of religious and cultural significance) called “Orongo” on the island of Rapa Nui ( Easter Island) a Moai ( Carved statue) was taken from its grounds, a friend was soon to be realised!

The English ship Topaze ( who was stolen from the French and renamed by the English) found itself the carrier of a uncommon and weighty cargo.

Under the Command of Commodore Richard Ashmore Powell, with great effort this heavy basalt carving was hauled upon deck, the very size of it caused both boat and Moai to creek upon the deck.

Moai’s were at one time central to Rapa Nuian culture, each Moai represented a deified cheif or ancestor. It is believed that such carvings were made in a time period of200 to 300 years, perhaps whilst Europe went from renaissance to reformation. C.1500? ( But who can be certain?) ( every bodies got their own dates?? 🙂 )

A year of weary sea travel saw this Moai far from home, in a foreign land. In 1869 the Portsmouth docks ( England) saw a strange sight, the raising and lowering of what is now known as Hoa Hakananai’a (“stolen or hidden friend.”) the ancestor had been given a new title by the Rapa Nui people, a relationship had been sited and a lament had begun!


Hoa Hakananai’a on display in the British Museum.

The wests passion for collecting had held no restraint and would be typified in such acts as this.

It is recorded that the islander’s assisted in the moving of this Moai, though with the former advent of the bird men cults, the centralised nature and focus of these Moai’s diminished greatly and who can say for certain as to what form these social upheavals took and the conditions from which they grew – we can only speculate, however in this time the ancestors became rejected and stood as objects of hate and resentment. over turned and disfigured, these once proud Moai were now laid low!

Despite these tumultuous times, which concluded by the fall of the Moai, the moving of this particular Moai generated an emotive moment and the beginning of perhaps a new renaissance in Rapa Nuian thought toward the turn of the 19th century, the ancestors had come into there thinking again, a mere statue had not gone, but the departure of a friend “Hoa Hakananai’a” – perhaps hidden friend is more apt with these things in view –

Like Joni Mitchell’s lyrics in Big Yellow Taxi “Don’t it always seem to go, That you don’t know what you’ve got ill its gone” resonates in this moment, in that objects hold memories and attachments to time and place, with out those reference points in life we feel the absence all the more, that missing part from our lives!

Aye – friends are good, true friends even better – but absent friends leave a hole not so easily filled! 😦


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